Healthy living

Protect yourself from viruses

Follow these simple steps to protect yourself from viruses, such as COVID-19 and influenza.

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Wash your hands

Keeping your hands clean is the best way to get rid of germs. Make sure you wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or an alcohol-based rub (hand sanitiser).

Read about hand washing and how to wash your hands properly.

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Cover coughs and sneezes

It is important that you use disposable tissues rather than your hands or a handkerchief when you cough or sneeze. Make sure you always:

  • cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use your inner elbow
  • put the tissue into a closed-top bin as soon as possible
  • then wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitiser.

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Stay home if you are sick

If you are sick, stay home.

Viruses can be very serious for some people including young children, older people, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and people with chronic medical conditions – so it is especially important to keep your distance.

A very simple way to reduce the spread of germs is to stand or sit away from people when you or they are coughing or sneezing (at least 1 metre – about an arm's length).

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Keep surfaces clean

Clean your home and work surfaces regularly to help get rid of germs, this includes:

  • phones
  • door handles
  • children's toys
  • keyboards.

You can use warm water and detergent to do this. Avoid using antibacterial cleansers (disinfectants) as these can make germs resistant to them.

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Get vaccinated

Vaccines can protect against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness.

Learn more about immunisation and the diseases that vaccines can protect against, including those caused by viruses.

Last reviewed: 19-10-2023

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.